A $500,000 DWI Roadblock Van and Still No Videotape: Why Aren't These Arrests Videotaped?

Well if the government's out of money you wouldn't know it if you got thrown in the new $500,000 high tech Bat-mobile recently purchased for use in New Hampshire DWI roadblocks. In a recent announcement, law enforcement trumpeted that they have rolled out the new half-million dollar van. The new van has jail cells in it, breath testing gadgets, a suite for a bail commissioner and every other imaginable bell and whistle. Well, except one.

The new Bat-mobile is not set up to videotape the citizens seized in the roadblock. Kind of curious that with a half-million bucks poured into this high-tech weaponry in the war on DWI that the police didn't want video recording capabilities, so they could prove that the DWI suspects snared in the roadblock might really be drunk.

The rationale for this extravagant law enforcement gadget is that it will "speed up processing" of the DWI suspects caught in the growing number of DWI roadblocks. Apparently booking them at the roadside, then transporting them to the station, rather than transporting them to the station and processing them there, was worth $500,000. Why then, if they really wanted to insure a conviction, and apparently have no monetary limitations as to how they go about it, wouldn't they want to simply video record drunk drivers they arrest? Could it be that that some of the drivers aren't actually drunk?

Just about everywhere you go today in public you are videotaped. You are videotaped at your bank, supermarket, shopping mall, drive through lines for fast food, doughnut shops, parking lots, even little convenience stores. Just about every place you go is equipped with a video camera these days, but not your half-million dollar arrest. If some one holds up a store or commits just about any crime in public there is a video of the event on the news by 6 o'clock, copied from a private or public surveillance camera. It is very inexpensive to capture a high quality audio and video recording for safety and security purposes of just about every aspect of our everyday lives. Why then, do the police choose not to videotape DWI roadblocks in New Hampshire? If the DWI roadblocks are as effective at catching drunks as the police claim they must be confident that drunk drivers will roll into a certain spot at a certain time. Why not videotape the alleged drunk's speech, balance, field sobriety tests, and breath test?

When you watch cop shows at night all sorts of DWI and other arrests are captured on cruiser videos all over the country. You can see clearly and hear easily whether the driver is drunk or not on these video recordings made from cruiser cameras. Police departments all around the country also video and audio record bookings. With a good quality video recording little is left to the imagination as to whether the driver was really drunk or not. So why aren't most DWI roadblocks in New Hampshire video and audio recorded?

Is it a "safety issue"? It would seem unlikely that there is a safety issue here that doesn't exist in any other part of the United States. Is it cost? Not when you drop half a million on a high-tech RV. It cannot seriously be argued that the police cannot afford to videotape DWI roadblocks.

So if it's not safety and it's not cost, what could it be? We all know that DWI is a serious law enforcement concern; we hear that all the time, year after road-blocking year. Every year we hear that there will be a "DWI crackdown". Wouldn't the best way to prosecute or "crack down" on a real drunk driving case be to show the judge or jury a videotape of the driver if he or she was really drunk? So why DON'T the police want to show a videotape of a drunk driver at a drunk driving trial? And if DWI roadblocks are really effective enough to annihilate our Fourth Amendment rights, why wouldn't the police want every one to see proof of that effectiveness on videotape?

Could it be that some of the people arrested for drunk driving are not drunk? Or that they really don't act and speak as "slurred" as the police reports describe? It is easy enough to form your own conclusions as to why most New Hampshire DWI roadblocks are not videotaped.

Have a good weekend,

Mark Stevens

5 Manor Parkway
Salem, NH 03079




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